Updated: Mar 8, 2021
On January 31, I started my 5th attempt at the 100 Day Project .
What is the 100 Day Project? Basically you pick something and then do it every day for 100 days and document it. That's it. And it could be anything, too. Not just art - singing a song every day, dancing every day, doing something - anything, but doing that thing every day for 100 days. And again, documenting it. The 100 Day Project was originally started by Michael Bierut at Yale University and brought to Instagram by artist, designer and writer Elle Luna and friends in 2014.
2016, 2017, and 2018 were my first 2 attempts at the 100 Day Project. I set out with the intention of painting something, anything, for 100 days straight. No theme, no plan of attack, just getting myself to paint every day for 100 days.
Each year the same thing happened - I started off strong for about 10 days and then fell flat on my face. Usually I had a trip come up and more travel on top of that and I have a hard time being productive creatively on the road, and so April would become May would become June and 100 days would come and go and I wouldn't have much to show for it.
I changed my method of approach in 2019 and set out with a specific task AND changed the start date for my own personal project for the first week of January instead of waiting until April for the official start date. 2019 was a magical year! My goal was to create 100 Artist Trading Cards (ATCs) to practice creating smaller and improve my skills for the ATC Swap groups that I'm in.
I made it a whole 80 days! 80 ATCs were created and then I was just wiped out. I ran out of ideas and steam, but hey, 80 days is better than 10! I learned a great deal and would definitely say I improved on my tiny art-creating abilities.
2020 - yeah we're going to skip 2020. That was a year, for me, that will go down in the books as a not-at-all-productive-or-creative-year-that-was-very-hard-emotionally-but-also-some-great-things-came-out-of-it-and-so-little-of-it-was-pandemic-related year. The 100 Day Project was not one of those things.
This year, after polling participants, 100 Day Project host Lindsey Jean Thomson took the feedback from the masses and set the start date for January 31, 2021!
My creativity has been back in full swing after some major life changes (I'll touch on that eventually...maybe), so I decided to jump back in with 2 feet and attempt another 100 Day Project. This time, however, I wanted to do something a little different. Something that would give me the creative freedom I wanted, flexibility to make the project my own, but also give me something to work toward.
I had an idea for what I wanted to do and started the planning process. When on the fence about whether or not this "project" that I decided would count, I came across the Art Juice podcast (I listen on Pocket Casts) and listened to their episode with Lindsey on the 100 Day Project. I highly recommend the podcast in general for artists, but this one particular episode made me feel more jazzed about and connected to my 100 Day Project.
In this episode, Lindsey discusses a few major things that really hit home for me and my approach to the project this year. The first ah-ha moment was determining your motivation for actually doing the project:
Play - Fun! Do something every day for the pleasure of it (sing a song, dance a dance, throw paint at something)
Practice - Do something you want to learn or get better at (learning a different medium or technique, practice drawing, learn a new language)
Produce - produce one or multiple finished works (finish one big project or produce a few smaller projects throughout the duration)
I already knew I wanted to produce something - a few somethings to be exact. After the success of my second time hosting an Inktober prompt list and the request of friends, I wanted to create a prompt list - one prompt per week of the project - and create a finished piece or pieces reflecting that prompt. Each week, I would take that prompt and move through the project from concept development through sketching, color blocking, and finally finished work and reflection. Planning like this has never been a strength of mine when it comes to art projects, so I would be producing but also practicing creating with intention and planning.
Hearing the break down of motivations behind choosing projects solidified that this was the approach that I wanted to take. But what about the idea that you should be doing that same something every day and documenting it?
Lindsey covered that, too! Ultimately I set the rules for my own project. If my rules are that I can do something different every day, as long as it was contributing to that week's prompt project, then that's what I can do. It was a very freeing thought for me - as someone who feels guilt if they skip a day here and there of something I should be doing which can lead to many days of shirking that very thing I should be doing - even with fun things like art!
I don't have to sit down and paint or sketch every day for 100 days. Here is a short list of some of the things I can let myself do every day to work on a project:
- Spend 5-30 minutes laying on my bed, listening to music and thinking about a concept
- Perusing Pinterest or Instagram for inspiration or reference pictures while watching Critical Role (as of writing this, I'm on episode 31 in Campaign 2)
- Sketching or playing around with lines and colors in a sketchbook
- Color blocking and concept sketching
- Sketching out the final painting and finishing it
- Reflecting on or writing about my concept in my journal (or blog! or Instagram!) on that week's prompt
So many options that aren't just sitting down and painting every day but that contributing to a project. All things I need to spend more time learning and building into my art practice and I can already feel the habits forming.
So far, I've successfully finished 4 weeks and I don't feel overwhelmed or behind - though I am aware that as of publishing this post, I am into week 6 and I didn't say I finished 5 weeks. I make the rules! I love the freedom I'm giving myself for this. Each week and each new prompt feels new and fresh. Here is to hoping I feel this way in another 4 weeks!